Summer Festivals – Opera Festivals Wagner’s ‘Ring des Nibelungen’

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This is the first summer since 1985 that I have nothing at all planed regarding a festival visit. I have seen much around the world and I got a bit tired of the ‘merry go around’ of masterpieces dressed up in so called modern interpretations. I just did watch the 1979 ‘Götterdämmerung’ from Bayreuth on YouTube now and cant refrain to put some more thoughts about Richard Wagner and his opera on paper.

Though I haven’t seen the famous ‘Chéreau-Ring’ in Bayreuth, I have watched many videos about this production during the decades. Watching again today I can say that this production is still a brilliant highlight for me. From 1985 – 2007 I did go regularly to the Bayreuth Festival and have seen most productions there and of course also the ‘Ring’- Cycles. 1986 I did see and like the last performance of the Hall-Ring and contrary to all the negative comments by the media the public did give an enthusiastic farewell applause which took forever. I still remember a fabulous Hildegard Behrens and Peter Schneider conducting.

After this came the ‘Ring’ from Harry Kupfer with Daniel Barenboim in the pit. The transcendental approach towards Wagner’s operas started to fade away. Compared to Pierre Boulez’ conducting in the ‘Chéreau-Ring’ this was certainly not a good match. It did seem that a philosophical understanding was not an approach to be seen in Bayreuth too often anymore, though ‘Tristan’ from Jean Pierre Ponelle was another highlight regarding aesthetics and interpretation. I did see the last performances in 1986 several times and suffered through with Peter Hofmann one time, when he was sick and could barely sing the 3rd act. A kind of pseudo romantic ‘Ring’ could be seen 1994-1998 staged by Alfred Kirchner and James Levine conducting with much PR about the stage by Rosalie, with whom I had an interview and discovered that her knowledge about the Ring was poor. During those years I did talk with many so called famous opera people in Europe and in the United States. Most of them still had a highly idealistic approach towards their art work. One name: Günther Schneider-Siemssen who worked with Herbert von Karajan for many years. The Scala ‘Ring’ with Muti tried to be romantic but without depths.

The last ‘Ring’ I did see in Bayreuth was the production of Jürgen Flimm and Guiseppe Sinopoli which I do not remember at all. But I did like the Götz Friedrich production at Deutsche Oper Berlin which I did see 2-3 times. I did follow the new ‘Ring’-Production at the Met with Günther Schneider-Siemssen which was very good but I must say that the ‘Chéreau-Ring’ had much more substance and did show the deep philosophical dimensions of the art work in a pure and convincing style, similar to the Old Greek Drama tradition.

After having suffered through Katharina Wagner’s ‘Meistersinger’ in 2007, I did never return to Bayreuth and still do not understand why this highly outstanding festival is now handled like a family supermarket chain, without wanting to insult the artists who give much each summer. Certainly this insensitive approach never was the goal of Richard and Cosima Wagner who might by now have closed the place.  The actual ‘modern’ productions do not help art, we must not forget how to read the librettos or of course the music and show the drama intended by the composer, which cannot be replaced with dull superficial scenery. Our existence is (at the least) a long story – maybe a fight through many incarnations – and to stage Wagner’s operas without these aspects does not correspond with his intentions.

During the season 2019 an opera house started to stage ‘Götterdämmerung’ as a start of the ‘Ring’. Why this ? Maybe as a reason to get headlines in the media? Though in the ‘Götterdämmerung’ many happenings can be seen in a kind of retrospection, still this is not a good thing to do since the entire drama will not unfold fully and in depth.

With all the problems we do have on the planet nowadays a consideration of the possibility of reincarnation might be helpful and the operas of Richard Wagner are based on this fact. To belittle them and make a good show with sex, drugs and fun as main message is a total misuse of art and life and does not reflect the language of the music.

I only can wish that the opera hype and event celebration of opera productions might turn into a true artistically experience again, the world could heal better by this approach.

Excuse my English but I have written in this language since more people can share my feelings.

 

Copyright Midou Grossmann 2019

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„Z“– er lebt – der wissende Mensch

Eindrucksvolle deutschsprachige Uraufführung der Oper von Minas Borboudakis im Rahmen der Festspielwerkstatt der Münchner Opernfestspiele 2019 – Bayerische Staatsoper.

Für ältere Besucher der Premiere war es ein Erinnern an den Kampf der Demokratie in Europa, jüngere Besucher empfanden eine fesselnde Aktualität, die durchaus noch eine aktuelle Berechtigung besitzt. Hellas stand schon immer für einen kompromisslosen und emotionalen politischen Weg, Freiheit im Ausdruck der Menschlichkeit war ein Credo, das dennoch oft mit Füßen getreten wurde. Im November 1966 veröffentlichte Vassilis Vasilikos seinen Tatsachenroman „Z“ in Griechenland. Der Schriftsteller hatte das Attentat auf den führenden Politiker der griechischen Linken Grigoris Lambrakis zur Grundlage für seinen Roman genommen, die Verfilmung von Costa Gavras machte das Buch zum Weltbestseller.

Das Buch und der Film bildeten die Grundlage für das Musiktheater „Z“, das als erstes Auftragswerk der neuen Griechischen Nationaloper 2018 in Athen uraufgeführt wurde. Wie im Roman, überlappen sich auch in der Oper verschiedene Bewusstseinsbereiche. Die Stimme des Opfers erklingt zu Beginn über Lautsprecher und sendet ein starkes Signal: „Die Toten reden nicht, sie sind ohne Stimme, und selbst wenn, erreicht sie uns’re Ohren doch nicht. Doch sie leuchten ganz schwach wie eine Lampe, die in der Ferne schimmert. Ihr Licht ist kraftlos, doch bricht es sich Bahn. Es gibt uns Zeichen.“

Betrachtungen über Gut und Böse, Integrität und Opportunismus, Mitläufer und Mutige haben zu jeder Zeit eine Berechtigung und daher berührt diese Oper auch so stark. Der deutsche Text wurde brillant von Michaela Prinzinger verfasst und die Regie von Kevin Barz agiert sehr ausdrucksstark auf einer Lauffläche von 32 Meter in der Reithalle München. Wie ein Film entwickelten sich hier die packenden Bilder über eine Straße des Geschehens, von beiden Seiten der Zuschauerblöcke zu sehen. Die Projektionen auf  Gazevorhängen wirkten doppelseitig, die Sänger/Schauspieler agierten ebenso.

Über allem stand die geniale musikalische Handlung komponiert von Minas Borboudakis, der auch selbst dirigierte, und das sehr eindringlich. Die vielschichtige Partitur darf vordergründig als minimalistisch bezeichnet werden, dennoch beherrschten eindringliche Spannung sowie dynamische Klangentwicklung durchgehend den Raum. Öfters wurde das Geschehen vom Chor kommentiert, das antike Drama Griechenlands war allgewärtig. Das Kammerensemble von 11 Musikern interpretierte diese Musik mit großem Einsatz, über die Minas Borboudakis selbst sagte: „Die große Herausforderung wird sein, diese Klangatmosphäre herzustellen. Denn besonders die Monologe sind sehr filigran, mit sehr wenigen Mitteln und sehr speziellen Klängen, mit speziellen Techniken und mit der Einbindung von Elektronik. Es spielen viele Faktoren mit und das zu dirigieren, ist ein bisschen wie Chirurgenarbeit. Für den Schauspieler sind die rhythmischen Passagen eine Herausforderung. Es gibt einige Stellen im Stück, in denen er den Text von mir rhythmisierst in der Partitur bekommt, ihn aber trotzdem auf natürliche Art sprechen soll.“ All das gelang bestens, und das gesamte Werk entwickelte sich mit einer Komplexität, deren schwingendes Element so vorab gar nicht vorstellbar gewesen war.

Alle Protagonisten zeigten größte Identifikation mit den Rollen und der große Applaus des Publikums belohnte dies auch. Zu erwähnen sind von vielen die Hauptdarsteller Edmund Telgenkämper als Z, Simon Bailey als skrupelloser Archosaurier. Joshua Owen Mills als Mörder Grille zusammen mit Krabbe Long Long. Sehr berührend auch Noa Beinart in der Rolle der Frau des Opfers/Seele.

Sicherlich wird sich dieses Werk auf den Bühnen behaupten können, wünschenswert wäre auch eine Inszenierung an einem großen Haus, da es hier doch um mehr geht, als um ‚nur‘ einen politischen Mord. Die gesamte Handlung wird geprägt von philosophischen und seelischen Aspekten, die gerade heute wieder so notwendig sind für eine Betrachtung der Welt.

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Fotos copyright Midou Grossmann – Szene München – Minas Borboudakis

Weitere Vorstellungen 3., 5., 7. Juli 2019, Reithalle München

 

Belcanto! Wanting to sing ‘deep’?

For a classical opera singer talent does build a base of maybe 30%!

Studying the basic technics for some years another 30%!

But this is often not enough for a successful career as a soloist. The last 40% which will provide enough stamina and determination, self-trust, and the power to pursue a long career are based mostly on psychological and spiritual tools.

In Wahrheit ist das Instrument des Sängers der ganze Mensch mit all seinen
seelischen und körperlichen Spannungen. Selbst die Zweiteilung des Instruments ist zuletzt zwanglos aufgelöst. (Franziska Martienssen-Lohmann – berühmte Gesangslehrerin)

In allen Gesellschaften hatte die Musik eine hohe Bedeutung. In den alten Sagen kann man lesen, dass die Musik bereits vor langer Zeit als eine Art Lebenselixier galt. (Herbert von Karajan)

I have studied these ‘interior dimensions’ of success since more than thirty years and I am confident that I could help many talents to prosper during many years in harmony with creative abundance and self awareness. See my flyer, do not hesitate to contact me if you feel that this could enforce your artistic and human potential.

Love and Light – MIDOU

Singing

Richard Wagner’s love for India

In my book – published long ago – I did bring out the resemblance of Wagner’s operas with the ancient Indian Philosophy of karma and reincarnation.  The RING, a karmic story, was outlined therein page by page as a story based on the principles of Vedic philosophy. This is not at all admitted in the West, even after more than two hundred years things do get put on stage with all kind of confusions and misunderstandings.

In Wagner’s memoirs  Das braune Buch  we can read a most interesting quote about the Ramayana. Wagner and his wife Cosima did read frequently the Far Eastern Scriptures, as did Liszt, von Bülow and many other close friends, inspired as well by Arthur Schopenhauer, who owned hundreds of books about this topic. (Can be seen at Schopenhauer Archives in Frankfurt, Germany.)

On page 55 – 57/Aug 1863 we read: “I am disturbed about your (Cosima) visit in Pesth, will take a book:  Ramayana! – Later: O what a beauty the Ramayana, what kind of a world is unfolding! An incredible piece of art, modern literature just seems insignificant. I am in book II: All is alive and does sound for me as real. – Rama is divine, a most beautiful drama is unfolding in my mind, but can I do it? – Rama and Sita and Lakshmana in the forest. A most beautiful poem, divine country of Ganga.  – Good morning dear (Cosima), Rama is around me. All is going down, tears, pain. I do see the queen who did create this sorrow, I see Marantha the hunch back, who is coldly talking to me.”

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Should be reprinted and refreshed. Time to see some news aspects about these operas!

For the people!

What art has to stand for ….. inspiration and comfort !!!

Giuseppe Verdi did call the home he founded for elder artists his best oeuvre. And yes, Casa Verdi in Milano is a beam of light about humanitarian dedication. He turned over his entire income from his copyrights to this home for artists in need when old. And the bodies of him and his wife are are respectfully resting in the mausoleum in the building. Please do read my article about this wonderful instituition, though it is in German, Google translator might help.

This does make me think about the oeuvre of Richard Wagner, his operas are based on the eternal truth of Eastern Philosophy, showing an aspect of existence which would help so many people nowadays to find inspiration. But the family institution – still in charge – does not want to show these aspects. Why? Maybe fear? Anyhow at the moment it does seem that Verdi has chosen the better investment for his talent and fortune. But we will never give up hope, things might change fast.

For my article about Casa Verdi and the amazing tenor Angelo Loforese who does live there please do click here!

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Munich live…

Dear Friends,

since I do live near Munich now I am diving into the various art activities of this city. I started with the staging of an unknown opera by Saint Saens at the famous Prinzregenten Theatre, production by young talents of the August Everding-Theaterakademie – L’ Ancestre – seen last on stage 1911. Find my review here!

On April 17 the world famous museum Alte Pinakothek has an exciting opening of an exhibition about  Caravaggio and his circle. A most unusual audio programm created by students of the Munich Musikhochschule will be available – each one of 75 paintings was set into music. I am involved in the exhibition and will be around weekly.

The Neue Pinakothek as well has many exciting adventures during summer. If somebody is town in April, please let me know.

I will follow also the Lied-Forum at the Music Academy between April 1-3 – Prima la Parole!

Of course the Egptian Museum will be on my schedule too. Still working on my libretto with a plot which does take place in old Egypt.

I feel great in my country side flat just 45 minutes away from Munich – perfect balance – peaceful country tradition and a buzzing huge city. The region East of Munich is still very much authentical Bavarian style.  I do wish all a creative spring, positive energy is high!

Some more infos Egyptian Museum Munich

5000 Jahre Kunstgeschichte – Das Ägyptische Museum ein Stern im Kunstareal München